Macallan’s brand image tarnished by disorganized event

Attendees struggle to find seats at an introductory event for the Macallan Edition No. 4 at CGV Cheongdam Cine City in Seoul, Monday. / Screen capture from Whisky Cognac Club’s Naver Cafe

Edrington Korea CEO No Dong-gyu

By Park Jae-hyukWhisky enthusiasts in Korea were disappointed at an event hosted by Edrington Korea earlier this week to introduce the Macallan Edition No. 4 single malt whisky to consumers here.

“After entering the event venue, I was a bit shocked,” said a consumer, who attended the event held at CGV Cheongdam Cine City in southeastern Seoul, Monday. “The venue seemed to be more suited for events for vodka brands. The venue was inappropriate for this event, considering Macallan’s brand image.”

The Korean distributor of Macallan’s whiskies failed to provide enough seats for participants in the event celebrating the release of the Scotch whisky costing 247,000 won ($220) per 700-milliliter bottle.

“There were few seats, and most of them were filled. Most attendees had to stand during the entire event,” the consumer said. “It was messy, as the host invited reporters, clients, bartenders and consumers to the single event.”

The poor quality of the party had him believe Macallan lags behind The Balvenie these days. “I even assumed that a party planner for the event had quit working with Edrington Korea before the event,” he said.

Advising the company not to invite consumers to such events next time, the consumer added he misses Edrington Korea’s previous event that introduced the Macallan Edition No. 2.

Another consumer, who watched the event via Instagram livestreaming, agreed with him, saying, “Attendees seemed to be confused about the event.”

Considering the recent slump in the nation’s whisky market, the event was important for Edrington’s rebound. According to industry officials, Korea’s imports of whisky declined to $152.58 million last year from $231.03 million in 2010.

Edrington tried to win over Korean consumers at the event with a video clip showing the new distillery in Scotland.

“Macallan, which has been recognized for its premium single malts, marked a new era in the global single malt market with the historic opening of the new distillery,” an Edrington Korea official said. “The Edition No. 4, which was released to celebrate the opening of the distillery, is expected to win popularity among single malt enthusiasts and collectors in Korea.”

However, some consumers expressed their dissatisfaction with the taste of the Edition No. 4.

“It was too watery. It was just like drinking the Macallan Classic Cut diluted with water,” another guest at the event said. “The information about the product was dazzling, but mediocre whiskies need such a fancy package. Great boast, small roast, as the saying goes.”

Recently, Edrington Korea has also been criticized for raising prices of several of its Macallan products by 4.8 percent this month, citing the cost increase. They include the Sherry Oak 12, the Double Cask 12, the Fine Oak 12 and the Fine Oak 15. It was the first price hike of Macallan products since June 2015.

Industry officials pointed out the decision may have a negative impact on the sluggish market.

Edrington Korea CEO No Dong-gyu, however, hid from questions against this backdrop.

The chief executive, who was appointed last November, attended the event, but did not appear on stage.

Although No has worked in the liquor industry since 2003, the event just ended after an opening speech of an Edrington Korea’s executive and a Macallan brand ambassador’s introduction of the new product, without a question and answer session.

“We tried to create a comfortable atmosphere, just as in ordinary bars. However, we failed to offer enough seats, because the number of attendees was more than expected,” an Edrington Korea official said. “We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers.”

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